As more stars faced the assembled paparazzi (see Renee Zellweger, above, here with her new film My One and Only), Friday was awards day in Berlin for several juries - including the Fipresci Prizes I was participating in. Our winners were - Competition: Milk of Sorrow (Peru), Panorama: North (Norway) and Forum: Love Exposure (Japan). And the Panorama strand also handed out its Teddy Awards last night at a rather fantastic ceremony that included several terrific performance artists and musicians, plus celebrity presenters and a life achievement award for Joe Dallesandro. Teddy Awards went to Raging Sun, Raging Sky (dramatic feature), Fig Trees (documentary) and John Hurt for best performance (in An Englishman in New York). The main competition awards ceremony takes place Saturday night.
Before all of that, I managed to see a few more movies...
dir Andrzej Wajda 09/Pol ***
Shot with Wajda's usual expert skill, this somewhat difficult film centres on grief and blurs the edges by telling a multi-plane story about a middle-aged actress who delivers oddly disconnected monologues about the death of her husband. Meanwhile, we see the film she is now making, in which she's the one who contracts a fatal disease, and then befriends a 20-year-old boy. And we also get several behind the scenes glimpses of the film crew, all connected by the sweet rushes growing along the river, which smell like life on one side and death on the other. It sounds pretentious, but it's not. It is, however, not an easy film to get a grip on, and is pretty relentlessly sad, as you'd expect from the theme.
Short Cut to Hollywood
dir Marcus Mittermeier and Jon Henrik Stahlberg 09/Ger ***
From Germany, this rowdy fake-doc follows a lively, slightly crazy young guy (played by co-director Stahlberg), who dubbs himself John F Salinger and heads to the USA with his two goofy pals with just one goal: to become globally famous. The way he achieves this is pretty outrageous, and the film contains some bracingly sharp satire of celebrity culture and the voracious demands of the media. But the tone is all over the place, from broad slapstick to dark emotion, with a bit of grisliness and sex as well. It's great fun to watch, but never quite comes together to deliver the final gut punch.
dir Nick Oceano 09/US ****
Written by DustinLance Black (Milk), the script for this film is extremely strong and carries us through the slightly TV-movie production values. The cast is fairly strong as well, as it tells the true story of Pedro Zamora, who rose to fame in 1994 on the MTV Real World series for being so outspoken about his HIV status. Indeed, Zamora was a pioneer activist who made a real difference in the lives of people he met - and spoke to in theatres, on radio and TV. His story is truly inspirational, and it's told here with a real sense of emotion and honesty that cuts through the out-of-sequence structure. The makes him into a saintly figure, and isn't afraid to dip into heavy sentimentality - but if you take those two things with a grain of salt, the film has real power.